Sapientia Lecture Series

Dartmouth Events

Sapientia Lecture Series

David Woodruff Smith (UC-Irvine). "The Inner Liar Paradox: As Logic Meets Phenomenology." Free & open to all. Reception follows.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
103 Thornton Hall
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Abstract: "The traditional Liar paradox arises for sentences, or for speech acts, in variations such as: "I am now lying" (speech act), "What I am now saying is false" (speech act), "This sentence is not true" (sentence), or in a formulation following Tarski's famous treatment: (L) "L is not true", where "L " is a name of the sentence following "(L)" on the preceding line. Many analyses of the logic and significance of the Liar have been offered, in treatments of either everyday language or (à la Tarski) formal languages. But consider instead an act of consciousness wherein: (N) I think "this very thought is not true", that is, where N is an act or experience of consciously so thinking, a conscious mental act bearing the specified content. There is something paradoxical in this type of thought, for: my act of so thinking is true if any only if it is not true. We may call this situation the Inner Liar Paradox. (As "L" is for Liar or Lying, "N" is for (Self-) Negating in "inner lying".) What are we to make of this paradoxical form of thought? Our concern here is not with a sentence coursing through my mind in "inner speech", but with the conscious phenomenal intentional experience of my so thinking. I propose to explore this paradox by considering what this form of thought looks like according to (1) a detailed model of intentionality drawn from Husserl's phenomenology together with (ii) a further model of the structure of (self-) consciousness, or inner awareness, and (iii) the semantic conception of truth as veridical intentionality. I note that indexicality features in the content of N, and there are, I hold, further indexical elements in that form of consciousness."

Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, David Woodruff Smith is the author of Husserl (Routledge, 2013), Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind  (co-edited with Amie Thomason; Oxford Univ. Pr., 2005), The Circle of Acquaintance: Perception, Consciousness, and Empathy (Springer, 1989), and other books, as well as many articles. His research interests include phenomenology, ontology, intentionality, Husserl (and other historical themes), philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language.

For more information, contact:
Marcia Welsh
(603) 646-3738

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.